Heroin Addiction holds Two Families Hostage
Turbulence. For myself, it was only in the sky. This is a true story about drug intervention in Atlanta. For the Cain family, it was all about Vanessa. There had been turbulence in her life, and her family’s life, for her entire existence. At first, the turbulence had nothing to do with her. It wasn’t her fault.
How could it have been her fault when she was just a little girl and she lacked everything including basic stability and a balanced home?
A healthy neighborhood to grow up in and a nice man to point at as her real father was just not in the cards for her. Nobody knew what really set her down the opiate path. If they knew, they wouldn’t have sent me to help them sort out her issues and transport her to rehab.
One thing was for certain: the source of turbulence in this family had certainly changed. Vanessa was handing them back what they gave her twenty years earlier. The Cain family had grown tired of suffering from the monster they created. They had grown tired of wondering when the police were going to phone them with bad news.
Up until that Boeing 737 landed that night in Atlanta, Vanessa held the cards. She was in control with the power of her disease of addiction. She was the heroin addict who placed her drug far before her concern for her family.
I closed my eyes, thankful I was no longer the one in her position. That was a decade and a half earlier when my self-will ran wild. It was all about me. I only cared about my own plans and designs without any care or worry about the consequence.
Now the tables were turned. I was the interventionist. I had to be in control.
Drug Intervention and the Preparation
That night, with a storm knocking my American Airlines jet all over the dark skies of the Deep South, I had no problem being out of control. What choice did I have? I was on my third Intervention flight that month. There wasn’t anything pleasant about flying for business purposes even with first-class upgrades every other flight. There wasn’t anything pleasant about that intervention for Vanessa either.
My goal was to put her into a position where she made her own decision to be clean. The plan was for her to still go to treatment even if she didn’t want to and even if she didn’t like me very much after I did my job. I was far from concerned about what she thought of me. She was going to be withdrawing from heroin. I only cared about the comfort of the family.
They paid me to come up to Atlanta, to teach them how to speak to an addict - and under my tutelage - totally neutralize their beloved little princess.
I conducted interventions for many reasons. Money was last on my list. Losing an intervention would make me feel like an absolute failure. I never lost because it would take a threat against my life to get me to fold. We only flirted with loss. We only came close to losing when a family changed plans in the midst of an absolute panic. Sometimes it only took one family mistake to turn a routine intervention into a riot.
Pre Intervention in Atlanta: No Ordinary Family Gathering at the Cain’s
After an Uber ride over to one of the upscale areas of Atlanta, I was introduced to sixteen members of Vanessa’s family. The plan was for her to drive up from the downtown Miami area where she lived with her boyfriend, also a heroin addict.
So, during the family conference – or the meeting before the intervention in Atlanta session – Vanessa Cain was driving home to drop off her car to get a new replacement from her enabling grandmother. Like she even deserved a new car? She was 23 and had a record a mile long. She was living with a boyfriend who may even have been pimping her out.
Regardless of what his role was in her life, he was not my problem. His parents wanted to attend the pre-intervention session with the hopes of figuring out what to do with their son, who was addicted to everything. The Cain family made it clear to me that the parents of Tommy Shea were temporarily welcome in their home. Both the Cain family and the Shea family wanted their children apart forever and at all costs. I was offered a Publix sub.
I reminded the family for the tenth time that because I worked for a company that was performance based (we refund people who we fail to help), I was responsible for constructing the plans of this intervention in Atlanta based on the facts. I didn’t need nor want their help. I just wanted information. I would let them know what would have to take place to get Tommy apart from Vanessa and Vanessa in my car on the way to rehab after I spent the day hearing about this girl’s history.
The family was made up of New York Italian transplants. They wanted to argue from the start, all sixteen of them. The button-cute grandmother sat motionless, looking guilty, all day. It was her money that fueled this monster who was likely pulling over hourly to smoke heroin off Interstate 95 as we sat around and conversed around her.
My sandwich remained untouched. I don’t eat or drink anything during any phase of an intervention. Perhaps I just never wanted to miss anything by having to leave for the restroom.
On my right side sat the Shea family, including the mother and father. They were clueless about everything except one thing. They had made the decision to never spend another dime on their son’s treatment - not towards intervention, not towards detox, not towards anything related to treatment. But he was allowed to come home. They didn’t feel he was the problem. They felt Vanessa was the problem.
On my left sat sixteen angry New Yorkers. The grandmother received a text from Vanessa that she would be arriving at the house to pick up her new Mercedes at 10 AM the following day. “We will meet in the backyard at 9 AM tomorrow,” I said.
The Shea family was invited to the intervention as long as they agreed to remain silent. This meant not even a word could be spoken to their son. I made the decision to leave them out of all conversations during the pre-intervention. They were there to listen and take instructions. Each and every family member went around the room reading the letter to me that I asked them to construct a week before.
When each person took the time to read, one more piece of this addict’s puzzle came to the table in front of me. Everyone wanted to lend their opinion on their little lady and why she was willing to walk the dangerous streets at night in search of a hit. We were building a case, and the intervention was coming to light.
The Door Guard Makes Sure The Addict Can't Leave
I usually looked for the toughest person in the room right away. This is the person who stands by the door to block an alcoholic/addict who decides to run as a response to this harmless confrontation. They are not allowed to touch anyone, but they sure can scream at them if needed. Vanessa’s enormous uncle had volunteered for the task.
What the family didn’t know was that she was likely to run just because nobody had ever said “no” to her before. Her uncle was instructed to simply block the doorway with his sheer size alone, but he was instructed to not lay a single hand on her. As we made our way through the room, I was properly introduced to her step-father. He claimed he was a retired high-ranking member of the Marine Corp.
“Brian, want to see what Vanessa looks like?” he said, reaching for a picture of a potential Sports Illustrated model.
When he returned it to the top of the mantle, he accidentally exposed a model 1911 firearm. I wasn’t scared, but I did have an opportunity to show the family who was in charge of this meeting. He complied with my hand gestures, giving the firearm to me. I popped the .45 caliber round into the air, caught it with my left hand, inserted it back into the magazine, and uncocked the hammer, while he looked at me like a 12-year- old who was caught stealing the milk money at school.
“Why on earth would you have a bullet in the chamber during an intervention?” I didn’t wait for a stupid excuse. I told him to leave it in his car tomorrow morning as we wouldn’t be needing it. Apart from halitosis, nothing came out of this man’s mouth the rest of the day.
At least the family knew they had their man. I was hired to take full control. Now, while the grandmother had the money that fueled the drug habit, it was the mother who was the one who delivered years and years of insanity and dysfunction to Vanessa.
The group all agreed to now focus their attention and efforts on Marla Cain, the mother of the addict.